Your 30-Second Guide to Thanksgiving Wine

Last-minute shopping tips for Bird Day bottles

By The Editors

Your 30-Second Guide to Thanksgiving Wine
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25 November 2015

Thanksgiving morning every year of your correspondent’s adulthood, summarized:

Run into first liquor store that’s open. Ask first employee, regardless of expertise or job title, for a wine recommendation. Give vague instructions: “Not too expensive, goes well with, uh, turkey.” Buy forgettable bottle, curse self, vow to do better next year.

This is the next year.

We asked Bob Paulinksi, a certified Master of Wine (one of the few in the world) for his top picks for T-day food/wine pairings.

Paulinski, who plies his vino knowledge at the online spirits store BevMo!, gave us a nice cheat sheet for the biggest wine holiday of the year … and an excuse to sleep in on Black Friday.

The first rule of Thanksgiving wine:

“Choose a wine that best goes with the main course, then go with something that is versatile.”

The red of choice:

“With traditional holiday meals, Pinot Noir would be the best choice. It has a soft aroma and some subtle savory notes that make it very versatile. Additionally, its acidity and gentle tannins marry well and enhance everything from the turkey itself (both white meat and dark meat) to sweet potatoes, vegetables and cranberry sauce.  Not to mention,Thanksgiving can be an hours-long meal, so it’s best to avoid big wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon that will overpower the meal.”

Your white:

“You’d want a white that is not overly oak, like a non-oak Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. A non or low-oak Chardonnay has just enough acidity but is neutral enough to make some good flavor combinations across the table. A Pinot Grigio’s light and bright flavor is perfect to reawaken the palate between bites of the many sweet, salty and savory foods at the meal.”

For sparkling wine:

A sparkling Rose is ideal. It’s full, weighty and round. Also, its build has the structure to stand up to a variety of dishes.

For something offbeat:

Dry Riesling is great with all preparations of turkey. The acidity will keep the palate fresh. Malbec is perfect with any meal that features red meats. Also, Malbec has the body and tannins to stand up to red meats, but there’s also an approachability that will fit a variety of preferences.

Some budget-friendly wines:

Bonny Doon “The Heart Has Its Riesling” Dry Riesling
Nuestro Tiempo Malbec
Sea Stack Pinot Noir


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